State Park and State Recreation Land Acquisition

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Number of acres acquired annually within statutory state park and recreation area boundaries

Why Is This Important?

The DNR continues to develop long-term management plans for the state park system. Along with landowners and governments, we identify boundary expansion possibilities that meet goals such as: adding a buffer to an existing facility within the park; buffering the park from development outside the park; providing recreational facilities such as campground expansion; protecting unique natural or cultural resources; or providing public access to lakeshore. When a final management plan is approved, DNR proposes legislation for a boundary change. The DNR focuses on acquiring the most critical properties as they become available. As of 2017, the land inside state parks not administered by the DNR, otherwise known as in-holdings, totaled about 42,600 acres. Historically dating back to 2000, the DNR has been able to acquire an average of 300-800 acres per year, including donations. In fiscal year 2017, 294 acres of in-holdings were acquired.  The DNR has also partnered with organizations such as the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and The Conservation Fund to acquire critical parcels.

What Is DNR Doing?

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Minnesota’s 66 state parks and nine recreation areas protect the state’s most treasured landscapes and historic sites that are enjoyed by millions of visitors each year. The DNR acquires lands for state parks to preserve natural and cultural resources, to provide interpretation and offer outdoor recreation opportunities. As the number of Minnesota residents grows, so does demand for recreation space and the potential to lose these very areas to development. Failure to keep up with this growing demand and development pressure would result in overuse and deterioration of our state parks. About 42,600 acres of land within existing state parks and recreation areas remain to be acquired. Acquiring these parcels from willing sellers is key to providing future generations with satisfying outdoor experiences. If these lands are sold and developed privately, they are lost to the system for another generation or even permanently.

Target: Acquire 150 acres of in-holdings in FY20.

Funding for land acquisition is variable and 150 acres is a realistic target given the anticipated amount of resources for FY20. The DNR will work with willing landowners, local governments, and the Legislature to reach this goal. Our management plan process will continue to help identify expansion opportunities. The DNR’s goal is to purchase parcels that are critical to the integrity, resource management, and outdoor recreation opportunities of the parks and surrounding communities.